Lovebites – ‘Battle Against Damnation’ (EP Review)
Lovebites are headed for the big leagues – and if this is the first time you’ve heard of them, keep that name in mind. You’ll be hearing it much more often in the future.
Despite forming fairly recently, Lovebites have already managed to attract a passionate social media fanbase on the back of their debut album Awakening From Abyss. As an all-female Japanese metal act, Lovebites might seem like prime targets for Babymetal comparisons and backhanded sexist comments like “you play really well…for a girl”. But since Lovebites individually proved their instrumental chops through pre-band session work and other projects – and Babymetal are clearly a very different proposition, being a band of dancing vocalists backed up by a band of metalheads – gender-related considerations can be easily swept aside.
If a group of guys could play this well, they wouldn’t hear comments like “yeah, you’ve got some chops…for a man”.
Lovebites can play. Full stop.
They’ve also levelled up significantly on Battle Against Damnation. First track The Crusade pays its respects to Dragonforce, using finely-tuned guitar harmonies and plenty of sick pinch harmonics – and it is far more solid, aggressive, and generally heavy than Lovebites have been up to this point. Vocalist Asami even opens up some serious vibrato while belting out line after line, and when the guitar solo hits…well, fuck. Pretty much every trick in the book gets unleashed there, pushing the whole track over the top while demanding you return for a repeat performance.
Moodier thrasher Break The Wall proves that Lovebites are no one-trick ponies, packed as it is with tight riffs and, yes, still more stunning shredding. One Metallica- and Queen-influenced bridge later, begging for the full S&M orchestra treatment, and Lovebites return to full-tilt thrash, charging to the end and pausing before Above The Black Sea begins.
Time for yet another stylistic direction change, as Lovebites draw on the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen and symphonic metallers Nightwish. While most metal bands are happy to take one sound and milk it for all it’s worth, Lovebites consistently keep things fresh and engaging. Under The Red Sky throws everything that’s come before into a blender, then sticks the power on full. A true progressive voyage running close to six minutes, it’s an all-encompassing display of straight-up virtuosity.
These four tracks are superior to entire swathes of metal albums from the present day and decades past. Leave any gender issues aside; Lovebites have rendered them irrelevant anyway. In metal, all that matters is whether or not you can get the job done – and this band absolutely can.
Now, about that second album…
LTK RATING: 100% (Essential Listening!)
Pre-order Battle Against Damnation (out June 8) on iTunes.
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